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Did this year’s Cheltenham Festival live up to the hype?

Did this year’s Cheltenham Festival live up to the hype?

As far as key occasions on the sporting calendar go, Cheltenham Festival is certainly up there with the very best of them. From The Gold Cup to The Champion Chase, the historic feast of horse racing action is an unmissable event all-round, especially for horse racing fans. This year was no different either, with several blistering performances pleasing the returning crowds.  

The 2022 Cheltenham Festival was a thriller for punters, largely thanks to the immensely talented riders and the powerful horses they’re able to get a tune out of, but also because of the atmosphere being generated by the famous course’s returning fans. In fact, alongside the millions of people watching on television, the 270,000 passionate fans in attendance elevated the all-round atmosphere and feel of the festival even further. After all, without the race goers cheering them on, horse racing – much like other sports that haven’t had fans in attendance – just isn’t the same. 

Thankfully, the return of a passionate viewing audience enabled jockeys, horses, and trainers alike to rise to the occasion and dig even deeper to produce several memorable races and some big wins for any bettors. Of course, betting plays an integral role in horse racing. For example, according to data from, most people back the favourite in a race, but favourites only win around 30% of races. Likewise, certain jockeys have fantastic records at Cheltenham, much like the 2020 winner of the Champion Jockey award, Paul Townend. These particular details and more need to be factored into any betting predictions, hence why a winning bet is met with such joy and celebration as it can take a great deal of research to have a successful day at the races. 

This year, though, there were certainly plenty of winners at Cheltenham Festival as the action-packed horse racing extravaganza lived up to the hype and delivered some serious entertainment over the four days. With that in mind, below is a look at a selection of the best moments from this year’s Cheltenham. 

Paul Townend did it again 

When placing a bet, past events certainly help form any future predictions. For example, Paul Townend’s aforementioned Champion Jockey award from 2020 would, on paper, make him a strong contender for this year’s crown. Townend managed to achieve exactly that after being presented with the Champion Jockey award once again. The Irish jockey finished in first place five times, second place twice, and third place three times, accomplishing yet another successful year at the festival for Townend and making it 14 Irish winners of the prize out of the past 15 years, further highlighting the Emerald Isle’s domination at Cheltenham. 

Townend’s trainer, Willie Mullin, also had a successful time this year after being named the leading trainer for the ninth time in Cheltenham Festival’s rich history. In fact, Mullin has been crowned the leading trainer in nine of the last twelve Cheltenham’s. 

Rachael Blackmore made more history

The star of this year’s Cheltenham Festival was undoubtedly Rachael Blackmore, winning the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle before claiming glory in the showpiece race, The Gold Cup, riding A Plus Tard. Cementing herself as one of the greatest female jockeys the sport has seen, Blackmore is a true champion. 

On winning the historic Gold Cup, she said: “When I took out my license, I didn’t think I would be riding at Cheltenham, let alone a favourite in the Gold Cup. I never even dreamt I could be doing this and I am. What I’m doing now is a dream I could never allow myself to have because it was not even in my reality. You can never dream too big because this is something I never thought would be possible.”

Irish dominance continued 

Alongside the likes of Paul Townend and Rachael Blackmore reigning supreme in their specific events, Irish trained horses largely dominated this year’s event, bringing home the Prestbury Cup in the process thanks to emphatic wins from Sean O’Keeffe, Patrick Mullins, Mark Walsh, and Mark McDonagh. The Prestbury Cup is essentially decided by putting the winners from the four days of the festival up against each other, with each victor being tallied up depending on the country in which they are trained. Ireland clearly dominated once again this year, despite failing to do so in times gone by. For example, before the mid-2000’s, Irish trained horses averaged around five wins at Cheltenham. These days, though, that has certainly changed, with Irish trained horses coming out on top in 82% of races in 2021 despite only fielding 40% of festival runners. With hugely successful trainers like Willie Mullin in their ranks, the Irish are a formidable opponent in the horse racing sphere. 

With Cheltenham Festival over for another year, those in attendance will already be planning their return to next year’s feast of horse racing action. Make no mistake about it, this year’s offering certainly delivered. 

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